I'm in a made-for-TV movie that's running tonight, so I promoted it to a bunch of friends and acquaintances. I got a lot of emails back from people wishing me well and saying they'd watch, but one email really got me thinking.
An acquaintance of mine is in a play in Long Beach. Her director was wondering why there weren't many African-Americans in the audience when the majority of the cast was African-American. This gal asked me to promote the play to the people I know so that they might get more African-Americans in the audience.
I noticed when we produced Torrid Affaire in January that it was tough to get people to the theatre in Los Angeles. I'd seen it before when I did six or seven nights of Diary of a Catholic School Dropout last fall. I think we had a couple dead (eight or ten audience members) nights. For Torrid Affaire, we made the conscious decision to have two nights so we could fill the house and leave people wanting more. We had half a house the first night and a full house the second. Our promotion was word of mouth, Evites, posters, fliers and postcards (500 to casting directors). That's it. We didn't have a website, our posters & fliers were black & white. We didn't spend a ton of money, and I don't know that we would've had more attendees if we had more performances.
And what about these blokes who spend more? This show in Long Beach is promoted on a website as part of a season. How much did they spend to promote? How many people are actually showing up? How many nights is it running -- too many or too few? Per this gal's email, they're not getting the turnout from one particular racial group that they expected. We attended a preview of Sherlock Holmes and the Saline Solution by this hilarious comedy troupe that we found out about at a Renaissance faire (not from the $400 ad they ran in L.A. Weekly). The preview was full, but Andrew suggested that they may not be getting the audience they deserve (based on a recent email he received).
So what's the deal? What does one have to do to get people off the couch and into the theatre?